Exotic animal zoo delivers conservation message

Published on July 9, 2014

NEW GLASGOW – Mandy Cholmondely has watched her son Jacob Landry excitedly flip through the pages of National Geographic magazine.

It's the strangeness, bright colours and size of the exotic animals that capture his imagination.

When she heard that Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo would be making a last-minute stop in New Glasgow Wednesday, she knew there was no way Jacob could miss it.

“I don’t think we’d want them as a pet so it’s better to see the animals here,” Cholmondely noted.

They joined about a hundred other youths and their parents as they ‘oohed’ and ‘awed’ the exotic animals on display. While the kids were able to come up close and personal with the animals, Zookeeper Lacey Lescaudron keeps the presentation educational and entertaining.

“We were so pleased to bring the animals here to New Glasgow,” she said. “Getting away from Halifax is something we’d like to do more and there was a great demand for us here.”

A team of three from Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo was present for three shows yesterday.

In boxes of various shapes and sizes, Lescaudron brought reptiles, arachnids and tortoises of various shapes and sizes. She held and displayed everything from a Silas, a palm-sized Chilean rose hair tarantula, to Digits, the 15-foot-long reticulated albino python.

A private zoo in Hants County acts as a home for these animals. For most of them, it’s a place of refuge compared to where they came from.

“I would say 90 per cent of our animals have been seized from homes, were unwanted or even found outside,” Lescaudron explained. “The zoo is home to everything from the tiny poison dart frog to giant pythons.”

After presenting each animal, she ensured that kids and their parents knew that some of these animals’ habitats are being destroyed and their numbers are dwindling.

“We’re trying to spread the word that the environment and the animals in it can’t keep going unless we start changing our attitudes,” Lescaudron said. “We want kids to go home and ask their parents questions about nature and the environment.”

The tarantula and snakes impressed Lauchlan MacGillivray, 5, of New Glasgow.

“It was cool,” he said. “And I wasn’t scared at all.”

For staff member Luke Knowles of Halifax, showing and handling the animals, including a small crocodile and giant iguana, never gets old.

“I can’t get bored of this,” he said. “Each of these animals is unique and smart, which you can see when they’re in good moods or bad moods depending on the day.”

One of the zoo’s animals is a five-year-old tortoise whose lifespan is anywhere between 50 to 150 years. Knowledge like this is important, said Lescaudron when choosing the right pet for you.

“Research, research, research. It’s crucial for parents to know about these exotic pets before they buy them for their kids. Some animals are even prohibited as pets in Nova Scotia.”

The Wildlife Act list animals, such as venomous animals, bears, alligators and crocodiles to name a few may not be kept as personal pets. Included in the Act is the exclusion list of animals that may be kept without a Captive Wildlife Permit.

While not confirmed at this time, Lescaudron indicated that Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo might stop in New Glasgow again towards the end of August.



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